Monday, July 16, 2012

430 miles for fajitas?

     We drove to Ft. Worth, Texas last Monday to eat fajitas at Papasitas Cantina!  Actually and to be truthful there was a lot more involved than that....and as Paul Harvey would say "and now the rest of the story".
     We got a call on Friday from someone very special to us, Erin Rhode.  For those of you who don't know...she is the daughter of LT James Mitchell JR who was killed in Viet Nam in 1965.  (Jim was Ed's LT and killed from the same land mine that injured Ed.)  She told us that she and Scott would be in FT. Worth on Monday evening and wanted to know if we could make the trip south to visit with them.  There was no hesitation in answering that question...obviously we would go!  It has meant so much to both of us to have Erin and her family in our lives.  This year her three children were not with them as they all had their own activities we also left our grand children home.  Over the years her children and our grand children have developed a great friendship and we are so happy about that!
     Erin and the two of us arrived early in the day and spent an afternoon "catching up".  Scott arrived at the hotel about 7:00 PM and we left for Papaistas Cantina; Scott's absolute favorite Mexican restaurant in this area.  We enjoyed a dinner of wonderful fajitas.  Scott says they are the worlds best!  Back at the hotel we visited for a long while before going to get some rest from the long day.
     We met for breakfast in the morning and visited some more before Scott had to leave for work...we wished him well saying "someone has to work!".  We were all a bit uncertain if this was the 3rd or 4th year we had been meeting here; but for sure it has become a yearly event for us and we so enjoy the time spent together.  It truly means so much for Ed to be a part of Erin's life.  For him it is an important way to honor the memory of LT. Mitchell. 

Connie Beesley

    It is so amazing how certain events are etched in our memories. Even the passage of time cannot diminish their impact on our lives.  One such event happened in my life on July 20th 1965.  I was in Vietnam where we were fighting a war our politicians would not let us win and our fellow Americans did not support, a very confusing time for a 19 year old farm boy. On that day I recall my platoon commander announcing the birth of his baby girl Erin. To me that baby girl was a symbol of hope in a chaotic world.  Her father James M Mitchell Jr.would be killed in action six weeks later.  She would never see him.  It would be many years later that I would be privileged to meet that little girl who was now grown and has a family of her own. Erin, You impacted my life those many years ago  and you Scott and the kids still inspire me today.  Thank you soooo very much for being in my life.

Semper Fi
Eddie R Beesley

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Just Being There

     Sometimes people think that IF they are not doing something for a large group what they are doing is insignificant...I say that is not so!  Not to pat our our own backs, but to let you know that what we do one on one is often of the greatest value.   In our years in ministry it has been these times when we KNOW we have helped someone in their darkest moments that keeps us motivated.  Talking to someone who has been contemplating suicide but then walks away encouraged is more important than speaking to a crowded room in "general" terms.  Yes, Eddie does enjoy speaking in churches and to veteran and civic groups with his message of hope and encouragement...but sometimes we need to be there one on one; or as in our case most of the time...two on listen, to encourage and to offer suggestions for hope and help.
     Just this past week we had one of those opportunities. We met for lunch with a couple who wanted and needed help and comfort for their veteran son.  I will not go into particulars...such things told in confidence need to be kept there.  Their son is now dying and they needed to know some things AND most of all that someone cared.  We plan on visiting with him when the parents set that up and "just being there".  Sometimes that is all one can do AND sometimes that is the best and biggest thing we can do.  I recall on one VA hospital visit that Eddie was asked to come into a veterans room.  The man was dying...soon.  He couldn't speak but as Eddie spoke to him and held his hand his eyes filled with tears.  Just knowing someone cared enough to take time out of their day to sit with him for a while meant so much to him and also to his family. 
     Each one of us can do these small but BIG things IF we will listen to where God leads us if we want to help and be there for others.  And since we have been unable to do a lot of traveling these past few years this is where we concentrate our efforts for now. We hope that we will soon have the necessary financing to be back on the road to our military hospitals...if not we will continue to what we can closer to home.  And remember to keep a smile on your face as that small gesture will brighten the day for those you come in contact with!

Connie Beesley

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Viet Nam Veterans Reunion in Branson 2012

     Though there are times I sit here and make angry faces at my computer; you know, those days when it is running slow or just won't do what you want it to do!  But we were glad for modern technology in early March when Eddie got an email about an upcoming Viet Nam Veterans reunion to be held in Branson.  It is always good for us when events are in Branson; it is close and we can use our time share for accommodations.   So we made reservations and prepared to attend.  The event was sponsored by Branson Veterans & Reunions.  We've known the Director of this group, Arlen Lipper for a number of years.
       The attendance was good for this being the first reunion of this type. (Several years back Branson held a Welcome Home reunion in the summer)  We enjoyed the vendors area.  And of course it is always good for the men who served in this war to be together...welcoming each other home.  We saw old friends and met some new ones....AND Eddie had a surprise at one of the events!
        The first night several of us attended the Hamner Barber Show.  We ALWAYS enjoy this show and have seen it many, many times.  In fact once Jim Barber said he just knew we had figured everything out!  No Way!  Dave Hamner's illusions are amazing!  Both men are very talented and have talented folks working on the show.  The tribute to Veteran's is the best one in Branson and we never get tired of seeing it.
    The second evening we joined many of the veterans on the Branson Belle for an evening dinner cruise.  There was a special tribute planned for us hosted by one of the Southern Belles.  She definitely enjoyed posing for a picture with Eddie!  Yup....typical "flirty" Southern Belle!  After the tribute we boarded the Showboat for a great dinner and show!

      There was a parade planned and Eddie was asked to ride in one of the vehicles.  He is always ready and willing to do what ever is asked to support our veterans and participate in the events in Branson. 

     And now to back track to the opening ceremonies.  Saved this for last because it was special day for Eddie.  During the intermission a man came over to talk with Eddie.  He had been in the same beach landing at Chu Lai on May 7, 1965 as Eddie!  Small world!  This doesn't happen often.  Eddie has only re-connected with a handful of buddies from his time in service.  Below is a picture of Eddie and Arnold Foreman.  Needless to say this was an emotional time for both of them. 

     The reunion was a success and Arlen assured us that the planning was already under way for next year.  We were glad to hear that as my brother Michael was unable to attend this year...but plans to be with us next year.  We certainly hope many more Viet Nam Veterans will attend next year.

Connie Beesley

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Grit Together 2012

We arrived early in order to be sure to get a parking place where Ed could utilize the lift as he took the ibot chair with him for the days activities!  This was the 9th Grit Together and we have made all but one...(a family reunion of Ed's was on the same day.....needless to say  that they have chosen another date...This Marine let them know he wouldn't go for that when they planned the reunion on the same date the following year and he chose the Grit Together!)

We didn't plan on selling many books as most of those who attend already have a copy...but we go each year because we enjoy seeing all of our Marine family!  It is always an enjoyable day for those who attend.  There are activities for the children, a band, exhibits as well as lots of great food.  Sgt Grit out did himself with the food this year....not the usual hamburgers and hot dogs!  We had Indian Tacos, corn dogs and BBQ sandwiches!  I'm not supposed to tell, But Ed had seconds on the Indian Tacos!  They were "yummy".  In addition to all that...the shopping at Grits is the best!  His motto is that if he doesn't have it ....Chesty wouldn't want it!  This has to be Ed's favorite place to shop!  I have even found a few things  just had to have!

Each year Sgt Grit has a challenge coin for the event...AND you know Ed is sure to get one for his collection of coins.  We have filled two coin holders and we are working on the third.  I got an extra to send to a great nephew who is serving in Afghanistan. 

Ed with Sgt. Grit! Having a great time!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Getting the ibot.

A lot late, but here is a picture of Ed with his ibot taken while we were in Las Vegas! What a treat to see him at eye level! We are so very grateful for the chair!
This was when Tony Orlando first presented the chair to Ed at the NCOA convention.   Mary Eisenhower also played a part in getting the chair for Ed as well as the Huey 091 group. 

Snowball Express 2011

We were asked to be volunteers for Snowball Express 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  Without any looking at our scheduel...we knew we'd make time for this and immediatly said "yes".

What a privilege it was for us to be there with these families who have paid such a high price for the freedoms our nation enjoys.  I don't have the exact figures but there were over 1,000 of our nations precious children who have lost a parent in the War on Terror in attendance. 

On the first day Eddie and I were put in the area where these arriving families would pick up their luggage!  It was an ALL day job as the planes were coming in from all over!  We smiled, welcomed them and then helped them find their luggage and sent them on the way to their rooms before coming back down for something to eat.  I tried to sit between arrivals and got through the first day!  Tired but so glad to be here.

I have slept some since being there but will try to cover some of the highlights of the events laid out for the Snowball families.

As they arrived and all throughout the event there were celebritites and costumed characters to inter-act with.  The Green M & M took a real liking to Eddie!  Other Characters were there from Six Flags.  

We were bused to a convention sight...actually where the Dallas Mavericks play....  The team was there to greet the families and show off their trophy as Baskeball Champs.  (They won't have one from 2012 as our Thunder beat them...) 

Martin Plowman an Indy race driver talked to the families and was on hand through out the event to meet and take pictures with the families....he also had his car there for them to sit in and take pictures.....You know the children loved this!

Randall McDamiel formerly an NFL player for the Vikings was there to greet the families and sign autoghraphs...He fell in love with the Snowball families.

 I got autographed photos for our two youngest grandsons who love to play football!

Outside the convention center all of the children released lots and lots of red, white and blue balloons!  A tribute to thier parents.  Many of the children were wearing T-shirts with thier parents picture.

 After this event they all loaded up in buses....a very long line of buses and headed out to Six Flags.  Eddie and I knew we wern't up to riding all those rides so we headed back to the hotel for a little rest.  Later that evening I managed to get up to the 38th floor in spite of my fear of being up so high.  The elevator ride up and down waa terrifying...but I made it!  While helping play with the younger ones I made sure to stay far away from the windows but cringed when ever one of the children got close.  Eddie was in his ibot chair and had to keep making it go up and down. 

Gillys closed to the public for one evening and hosted a special party just for the Snowball families.  They had games and foods....lots for the families to do!  And to top off the evening Gary Sinise was there with the Lt. Dan Band to play for them!  What a night!

Have other pictures but as usual...getting the pictures and words in the right places seems to not be so easy for me!  Maybe some day I will learn how this is done.

The entire week end was so rewarding.  We are truly blessed to be able to do what we do.  We plan to volunteer again for this year...even though we came home very tired...we will do it again and again as long as  we are able.  You can google Snowball Express and learn more about this organization and how you can help if you would like to.

Connie Beelsey

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The NEW Wheelchair

In June we were getting ready for a week end visit with Erin & Scott Rhode (...remember Erin is Lt Michell's daughter...he was killed in Viet Nam when Eddie was injured) They now live in Carey, N Carolina...but would be visiting in Dallas for a week end. The plans were made and we would meet there.

THEN...just before that week end we began to get calls and emails.....URGENT must speak with you! Mary Eisenhower was trying to reach us! When we finally quit playing phone tag she let me know that they needed to get Eddies new ibot wheelchair to him FAST because Tony Orlando planned on presenting it to him at the NCO (Non-Commissioned Officers) convention in Las Vegas in July. Eddie needed to get the chair and get some training before then.

We learned that a man named Gary Lawson with the Huey 091 Foundation had the chair in Dallas and would bring it to us....BUT since we were going that way we made arrangements to meet and get the chair while in Dallas. What a thrill it was for Eddie to have Erin and her family there to see him get the chair and watch him train! Between Gary Lawson, who had been reading the manual....AND on the phone Gary Linfoot talking Eddie through each step the training took place. Eddie learned to put the chair into the balance mode raising him to eye level.
At that height he can also move the chair about and we can "walk" as never before...seeing each other "eye to eye". He had to promise not to try to climb stairs until he received proper training for that. It took about 5 strong males to get the wheelchair into the back of Brittnee's trailblazer for the trip home where it stayed for a few days till we got some help to get it out.
(later we bought some ramps to help load and unload the chair from her vehicle...knowing that soon we would be looking for a van.)

Within a few days we were packing about a new learning experience...we hadn't flown in years and had to learn all the new regulations for flying! Nervously we set out for the airport and our flight to Las Vegas...via the Dallas airport. That airport is huge and so that alone had me worried. As we arrived at the American Airlines check in...they were ready and waiting for us! Our contact with American Airlines, Toni Russell had made wonderful arrangements! We were seated in first class and soon in the air! In Dallas we were met at the gate and taken to the next airplane...soon on the way to Las Vegas!

When we arrived we were met and taken to the Golden Nugget hotel AND got to check in through the VIP room along with Tony Orlando's band!

The night of the banquet Tony Orlando along with Mary Eisenhower and Jim Palmersheim (from American Airlines) presented the ibot chair to Eddie. The evening was awesome! Eddie was able to be TALL when the Marine Corps Hymn was played! We are so blessed that last November Tony Orlando told Eddie he would see that he got one of these wonderful life changing wheelchairs! That promise started a chain of events that led up to this evening AND some wonderful events yet to come!

We took pictures and I will see what I can do to get them added to this blog in the next week or so....but this will have to do for now.

As I promised, I will work on getting some wonderful stories told and documented.

This wheelchair has truly changed a lot of things for us AND we hope that we can play a part in helping others become ibot owners! The road ahead may be a long one and perhaps even seemingly an impossible one..BUT I have learned that with God NOTHING is impossible!

So, please continue to "tune in". I will eventually explain that last paragraph...I have more stories to tell and a lot of pictures to post.

Till next time,

Connie Beesley